The gig economy is changing the way we work and hire. Gone are the days of the traditional career, a long slog where you work your way up within the same company. Instead, we’re now embracing greater flexibility in the way we work, and we expect it, too.
For businesses, there’s certainly some unease when thinking about truly untethered employees. But there are many notable benefits when it comes to working with freelancer or interim talent. In this blog we’ll look at some key stats about how the modern workforce is adapting, and we’ll consider the benefits to businesses of adopting this employment model.
36% Increase in Contingent Workers
Since 2008, according to a survey by Labour Force, the number of freelancers has jumped from 1.4m to 1.91m. This is a 36% increase, and according to PeoplePerHour, an online freelance platform, this trend will continue and by 2020, 50% of the workforce will be freelancers.
So, for businesses looking to stay agile, now and into the future, embracing the emerging contingent and freelance workforce matters. But to do so, understanding the gig economy, and how it works, will make all the difference in remaining competitive.
A Thriving Online Marketplace
The gig economy is a thriving online marketplace where freelancers and interim talent offer their services on an ad-hoc basis. Although the term has some negative connotations thanks to poor press via companies like Uber and zero hour contracts, at the highly skilled end of the spectrum, the gig economy has plenty of benefits to both employees and employers.
There’s greater flexibility for businesses, meaning they can hire the specific talent they need, as and when the need arises. And there’s greater flexibility for employees as they can work when they want, selecting jobs that suit their particular skills.
Plus, when businesses employ professional freelancers and expert interim talent, they don’t have to worry about training, learning on the job, or the interim’s career path. A business can work with highly skilled talent that already specialises within the area the business needs.
Disruption for Consultants
Of course, this type of working has been around for a long time, with writers and construction workers being primarily contingent for decades. But there are other industries that are experiencing disruption thanks to the way the gig economy is shaping employment. Interim consultants, for example, are now finding it easier to work via agencies and online platforms, matching their talents with the right businesses and the right jobs.
These talented employees are available for hire as and when they are needed, meaning that businesses can lean on this talent pool when relevant jobs come up.
It also means a business doesn’t have to completely outsource a project; instead it can supplement its own employees’ skills. This is often a good model to implement,when up scaling inhouse talent is simply too costly or time consuming.
But it is still important to carefully search out and screen these highly talented freelancers and interims in order to find the best people for the job. This is especially true when hiring freelancer or interim talent from a niche or industry your business doesn’t specialise in.
New Consultancy Models
Traditional consultancies work on a model where they rely on a “bench” of employees to work on their clients’ programmes. This is changing as new, leaner consultancies make use of the gig economy to bring a far wider pool of consultants to this virtual “bench” — giving their clients a much better match of skills to their needs — in a far more cost-effective way.
The Gig Economy is Here to Stay
In 2015, according to the Association of Independent Professionals and Self Employed, ‘freelancers contribute(d) approximately £109 billion to the UK economy’.
With the notable economic benefits this workforce brings to businesses and the economy as a whole, it’s worth working out how to better utilise this highly-skilled workforce. With the turmoil of the UK election, and the fallout from Brexit, flexible approaches to hiring will become increasingly sensible for both employees and employers.